Proud to be British and Proud to be Hindu

Diwali at the House of Commons 2019

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Diwali at the House of Commons 2019
The Hindu Forum of Britain [HFB] celebrated its 19th Diwali event at the House of Commons on 23rd October 2016 transforming the Terrace Pavilion into a vibrant and colourful space, full of light and laughter, a wonderful manifestation of the spirit of Diwali. Over 190 people attended the function and representatives from all sections of the society were present. Every year the HFB brings Diwali to the heart of the UK democratic system bringing together on one platform Ministers, Peers and MPs from all parties and dignitaries and leaders from many different sections of society, including interfaith and business leaders, Hindu community leaders and representatives of many temples in the UK. This year’s Parliamentary hosts were Bob Blackman MP and Lord Dholakia OBE and the master of ceremony was Barrister Jayesh Jotangia from the APPG Hindu group.



 Following on from the opening prayers by the priest from ISKCON, The President of HFB, Mrs Trupti Patel, in her opening address to the gathering warmly welcomed everyone and spoke about the importance and significance of Diwali to the Hindu Community and how the profound principles that reflect this important festival can be imbibed by individuals to create a harmonious and integrated society. She spoke about mass movement in the interests of the Hindu community which requires a coming together as a powerful force to effect change.

The co-hosts were then invited to give an address. Hon Bob Blackman, who has been re-elected as the Chair of the British Hindus APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group ) strongly asserted regarding the two issues which are of current concern to the Hindu community: the impending protest march in London planned for Diwali Day and the Kashmir issue which has been at the forefront of our minds. In no uncertain terms, he said the march was really an affront to the community being planned for on Diwali Day. He had personally raised this issue in Parliament with the Prime Minister.. He further added that ‘whole of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a sovereign part of India and Indian Government should be congratulated for restoring full constitution of India and equal rights for all citizens’ . He mentioned ‘ bringing together people from across the Hindu faith , various different temples , various different organisations as one voice, actually acting and speaking with one voice is critical , no need to create a new organisation every time any problem surfaces’.

Lord Navnit Dholakia congratulated the community in its achievements and echoed Bob’s thoughts on the two issues confronting it. He also spoke about how important it was to have a Hindu presence in both the Houses of Parliament as this not only allows us to have a voice but allows us to protect our place and space in the UK society. The co-hosts were accompanied on stage by the three Vice-Presidents of HFB: Mr Punnet Dwivedi (Scotland), Mr Tarang Shelat (Midlands) and Dr Ramesh Pattni (South). Rt Hon Priti Patel, the first Hindu Home Secretary spoke on Diwali and highlighted the importance of Diwali as a celebration of the noble Hindu values. She added that Hindus are very much visible in all sectors in the UK, and that the community was going from strength to strength in their contributions to the UK society and economy. She stated how delighted she was with the efforts of the HFB in organising this event and in its efforts to bring to the forefront the challenges to the Hindu community.

The Home secretary was joined by the main sponsors of the event, Burnt Oak Builders Merchants Mr Lakxman Kerai and Vascroft Foundation, Mr Shashibhai Vekaria, on stage and
both spoke of how important it was to support such events, congratulated the HFB on its achievements and wished everyone a happy Diwali. Paul Scully, MP , while referring to his Indian heritage as his grandmother who was born in Kolkata, applauded the fantastic British Indian success story and said “I am looking forward to celebrations in Sutton with my whole family.” He was felicitated by Mr Navendu Halai , son of much loved trustee of the HFB ,Late Shree Haribhai Halai. Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs thanked HFB for starting the Diwali festival at the HoC and providing an opportunity for parliamentarians to support the Hindu community. She was joined on the stage by two SNP MPs from Scotland, Deidre Brock MP and Alison Thewliss MP who were delighted to have joined the Diwali celebrations here in Parliament and sang praises of their local temples in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively and the Hindu Scottish community. The representative of the High Commission of India first Secretary Mr Rohit Vadhwana said that HFB is celebrating Diwali in Parliament is really important and imparted fantastic news from the homeland of all occasion of the Festival of Lights, each and every village in India now has electricity. Emphasising on the importance of the festival, Shailesh Vara, MP said that in present time, there is great need in the world for light of wisdom and forgiveness, to counter misunderstanding, mistrust and hatred for fellow human beings. The HFB patron Shree CB Patel gave his blessings to all the volunteers of the HFB and wonderful work of HFB currently with a goal to serve and take up issues of violent actions against the Hindu community. Lord Popat reiterated the HFB mantra of ‘Proud to be British Proud to be Hindu ‘and narrated a success story of Hindu community in the UK Interspersed with all the gaiety of speeches and lighting of lamps, Keerti Naren Dasa presented a stunning classical Indian dance performance based on a story of Ramayana and which was really appreciated by all the guests. Rt Hon Preeti Patel personally blessed the young dancer and congratulated her for a brilliant performance.

Many leaders of the community were called on stage to acknowledge their work for the community and they all spoke about the great role HFB is playing in the UK at the moment.
Pandit Satish Sharma, the General Secretary of the NCHT UK said that 2020 will prove to a significant year for HFB in its presence in the UK as the political voice of the UK Hindus. Dr T Jotingia , President of the Vishwa Hindu Parisad was given an opportunity to launch their booklet of Hindu Conclave .Finally, a vote of Thanks was rendered by Mr Velji Vekaria, the Chair for this year’s Diwali Committee of HFB together with the Patron of HFB Mr Rickie Segal who also joined the guests in expressing thanks for a wonderful Diwali the House of Commons. Celebration were concluded by prayers from HGS B.S. Tirtha Maharaj'.

The HFB has a strong voice in political arena and with the support of grass route and regional organisations and cross-party parliamentarians achieve desired outcome be it a campaign or consultations . Diwali has become a time when the world is reminded that we as human beings, in our lives, must find the light of wisdom that will sustain us and the generations to come into the future, the light that will counter the forces of negativity and darkness. The eternal message and the spirit of Diwali has stood the test of time and is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

Dr Ramesh Pattni
VP South HFB, Chair of PR
Photos Courtesy: CK Naidu

Read 3060 times Last modified on Tuesday, 10 December 2019 22:24

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The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) is the largest umbrella body for British Hindus with more then 300 member organisations from around the country. HFB is the first port of call from the central government and the most reported Hindu organisation in the British media.



HFB meets New Labour Leader


The HFB wrote to Sir Keir Starmer, the new leader of the Labour Party, on 8th April in which we shared some serious concerns the Indian/Hindu community had with the Labour Party.  The Labour leader wrote back on 27th April and whilst this is welcome, the issues raised by the HFB had not been addressed properly.  On 30th April 2020 a teleconference took place between the representatives of the HFB led by Ms Trupti Patel and Sir Keir Starmer and his team.  The HFB considers this as the first step in what we hope will be a continued positive dialogue for the Labour Party to learn, and to understand, the issues arising from within the community.

Those in attendance at this teleconference were:

Hindu Forum Britain (HFB): Mrs Trupti Patel (President), Mrs  Harsha Shukla MBE (VP North) and Dr Ramesh Pattni OBE (VP South).

Labour Party:    Sir Keir Starmer MP, RT Hon Angela Raynor MP, Rt Hon Janet Daby MP, Baroness D Lawrence and Navendu Mishra MP.

The discussion was cordial and Sir Keir Starmer confirmed that he was aware of the concerns, that as the new leader he wanted to reset relations with the Indian community.  He went on to say, he wanted proper engagement and that the Labour Party needed to hear and to be held accountable.  He further added that if the changes are not seen then he wanted the HFB to tell him so without any reservation. He accepted that an apology was due to the community.  His team echoed his thinking to move forward and build good relations with the Hindu community. 

The President of the HFB, Ms Trupti Patel thanked Sir Keir Starmer for taking the step in this important dialogue.  She pointed out that the reservations and concerns raised in her letter to him are serious and require the Labour Party to address those urgently.  She reminded him of the exclusion of Hindus in CV 19 steering group and most importantly Hate filled incident unfolding on the 15th of August 2019 on India’s Independence Day when some  4000 strong group of anti-Indian protestors threw missiles at the gathering of 200 people  celebrating Independence day and created a very tense situation.  She also pointed that it was alarming that some Labour politicians took an active part and voiced their views on Kashmir that were a detriment to community cohesion in the UK.

Sir Keir Starmer suggested that after the call it was essential to make sure that we don't let things fall by and to set up systems for communications that allow for continuous and direct communication with the senior leadership of the Labour Party.  

Dr Pattni pointed out that unless there are channels and systems of dialogue between the Labour leadership and the Hindu community, there will remain such tensions due to biased thinking in the Party.  Mrs Shukla pointed out that there  should be trust and respect which should reflect in transparent communication and be inclusive of all faiths in any policy forming process. There needs to be a practical  action plan as a way forward in dialogue which was echoed by Trupti Patel as doing the walk beyond just the talk.

The meeting concluded on the note that the HFB will be writing to Sir Keir Starmer with their observations on his letter as well as the teleconference call.  In so doing to give a series of actions points that the party can work on immediately. 

The Hindu Forum Britain have now written to Sir Keir Starmer with their observations as detailed in the letter below. 

Mrs Trupti Patel 



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Hindu Reflection by Mrs Trupti Patel - 16th May 2020

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